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PHCC OKs Arrington purchase
$234K in local funds to be used
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Patrick Henry Community College has made official its plans to buy the Arrington Manufacturing property in the Patriot Centre industrial park.
With no discussion, the college’s board on Monday voted to purchase the property for $234,443 to expand PHCC’s motorsports program, which has occupied leased space there since 2005, and to locate some other workforce development programs there.
Arrington Performance, which builds engines and custom performance parts for certain specialty vehicles, plans to remain there.
Board member Pam Foley of Henry County abstained from the vote, saying she has a family member who works at the facility. All other board members present voted in favor of the purchase.
The State Board for Community Colleges agreed to buy the Arrington land and buildings for almost $5.5 million. However, it asked PHCC to reimburse it for the cost of the land because under state policy, costs for land more than five feet from a building cannot be paid with state funds.
PHCC will use funds contributed by the localities it serves, including Henry County and Martinsville, to pay the $234,443.
In 2008, the General Assembly approved an $8.7 million bond issue to build a motorsports technology center on PHCC’s main campus in Henry County, but the college was not able to come up with an extra $1.5 million to $2 million needed for site development.
That money would have had to come from the localities, but considering their budget constraints, it was “not realistic” to ask them to pay it, said PHCC President Angeline Godwin.
Furthermore, none of the four on-campus sites identified for the proposed building were ideal, she said.
The proposed building would have comprised 31,000 square feet. Because the Arrington facility is larger, “we can do a lot more with it,” Godwin said.
PHCC administrators think buying the Arrington property “presents a unique and rare opportunity for the college to expand its motorsports program and to serve the needs of the community,” a report to the board stated.
“Motorsports really is advanced manufacturing at the highest level,” Godwin said. Both PHCC and the New College Institute are involved in efforts to teach area residents advanced manufacturing skills, such as using computers to run machines.
The Arrington facility “gives us the opportunity ... to show the connectivity” of advanced manufacturing skills between the automotive industry and other types of industries, Godwin added.
Other programs which may be housed in the facility include electricity and electronics as well as the college’s newly established Mechatronics program, which will teach students to set up, program and maintain robotic programs, PHCC officials have said.
Also Monday, the PHCC board approved two new medical programs.
The Medical Sciences Specialization Degree is an associate’s degree in arts and sciences designed to be earned in four semesters. It is aimed to prepare students for medical, dental or veterinary schools or to enter other science-related fields, a report shows.
The Certificate in Medical Sciences contains three semesters of course work and is designed to prepare students to enter medical school or “allied health” professions, a report states.
Allied health refers to health-related jobs other than those of physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Examples include paramedics, dental hygienists, respiratory and physical therapists, dietitians and audiologists.
Students who already have earned associate’s or baccalaureate degrees but did not take premedical or science courses would benefit from the certificate, officials said.
By earning either the degree or the certificate, students would be prepared to register for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) or similar tests, a report shows.
PHCC consulted the Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine, which is establishing the College of Henricopolis School of Medicine in Martinsville, in developing the programs.
With a local medical school being established, the PHCC programs should be “an exciting opportunity” for area students who want to enter the medical field, said board member Lillian Holland of Henry County.
The board also approved a revised forestry harvesting plan.
In June, it had approved the harvesting of 10 to 15 acres of pine trees on the Henry County campus and the Virginia Department of Forestry handling the timber sale.
Since then, the forestry department revised its harvesting plan to provide for thinning of the loblolly pine stands and clear-cutting the Virginia pine stands while maintaining pockets of hardwoods, a report shows.
The forestry department now is recommending that 24 to 26 acres of pines be harvested and all affected areas be replanted with Shortleaf pine. That is a diminishing species native to Virginia, according to the report.
The revised harvesting plan has been submitted to the state community college board for approval.
Timber sale proceeds will go into the college’s coffers, although some will be used to pay the forestry department for its services, officials have said.